Prepaid auto rickshaw (tuktuk) service pros and cons in India
‘Doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t’ seems to be the mantra when hiring auto rickshaws throughout the length and breadth of the country. Whether pre paid or running by the meter, auto rickshaws drivers in the country have their cake and eat it too. To combat these ills, prepaid auto rickshaw service was launched in a host of Indian cities with the hope of coming to the aid of passengers arriving in the city at all odd hours. Due to this system a lot of passengers benefitted not only for the fact that they were charged exact amounts to reach their desired destination but also for the fact that they could now get hold of transport facilities even if they arrived at the city at odd hours of day or night.
However, for every benefit offered there is the other side of the coin when auto rickshaw drivers will try and extract a pound of flesh from a hapless newcomer into the city. There have been instances when people have complained of being targeted by these nefarious drivers by demands of extra money. Lack of coordination with Regional Transport Office and rickshaw drivers has put the prepaid rickshaw system in a limbo.
Drivers are so used to the metered system of charging for rickshaw travel as this gives them a free hand to loot customers. Installation of faulty meters, taking longer than necessary routes and rigging of meters to run faster are some of the tricks which auto rickshaw drivers practice to loot commuters. It was then thought that prepaid booths would be the answer to all these evils which in turn added their own set of tribulations to the long list of complaints which commuters have against errant rickshaw drivers. Prepaid booths do not have a uniform system of billing or an effective enforcement body. There are loopholes and lack of clarity which has left commuters even more harassed and cheated while authorities and traffic police are often hand in glove with these auto rickshaw drivers taking a share of the loot at the end of the day.